Transfer News: Robert Clark And Gerald Christian To Leave Gators

Two Dwyer-ites down, two to…hopefully stay forever and ever and ever.

On Tuesday it came to light that wide receiver/returner Robert Clark and tight end Gerald Christian will transfer from Florida. The two came to Gainesville as part of the 2010 recruiting class with fellow high school teammate safety Matt Elam, but neither was able to experience his success and more importantly his minutes on the field. Both Clark and Christian announced they would be leaving the Gators in seek of more playing time.

Clark wasn’t able to earn much of an opportunity as a receiver and will unfortunately be remembered for fumbling a punt in Florida’s recent loss to Auburn. Down eight in the fourth quarter, the Gators defense forced the Tigers to punt only to have the ball return to Auburn after Clark’s fumble. Not necessarily they way you want to go out, but Clark looks to make better memories elsewhere.

Christian’s memorable moment from the 2011 season was a positive one when he caught a touchdown pass from John Brantley in the Gators’ win over Kentucky. The tight end’s development was a rocky road as he was moved from TE to linebacker and back again several times early in his career. Due to injuries, it appeared that he would settle into the offensive position and after his catch against the Wildcats, many were excited for his future. The highlights would end there though and Christian’s Florida career comes to a close with four total catches to his name.

The two sophomores move on now, leaving the Gators’ offense with less depth than it can really work with. Neither were major contributors, but in an up and down season, contributions can come from anywhere at any time. Good luck to the two as they look to continue their careers elsewhere. More luck wished to the Florida offense as it moves forward.

Offense: Florida Gators 48 – Kentucky Wildcats 10

Part one of a four-part series that has every intention to come in four parts, but usually comes in three parts, and occasionally comes in one-part.

405 yards rushing. That number means a couple of things. First of all – and not to take away from the collectively effort of the Florida running backs – that’s one less than the NCAA FBS record that LaDainian Tomlinson set in 1999 when he was at TCU. But we’re not here to talk about one running back; we’re here to talk about the Gators’ stable of running backs and there night for the ages. So on to the second thing that number means…

The last time Florida went over 400 yards rushing as a team most of the current members of the squad weren’t even born yet. Against New Mexico in 1989, a running back by the name of Emmitt Smith had a career day. Smith would set a Florida record that still stands with 316 yards on the day. The Gators would go over 400 yards on the ground in that game as well. It would be nearly 22 years before they would do it again.

How did it all happen? Kentucky’s defense never stood much of a chance in Florida’s 48-10 victory. The Gators ran the ball 46 times for 405 yards, a clip of 8.8 per carry. Amazingly, the Wildcats actually had the higher time of possession. Chris Rainey excelled again, but he wasn’t the brightest star Saturday night. That would be Jeff Demps. Demps finished with 157 yards on only 10 carries and two touchdowns, including an 84-yarder which would be a career-long for no. 28 (and no. 2 when he sported that digit on his jersey). On the play, Demps was aided by good blocking, but his speed would prove to be the difference. He saw daylight in the Kentucky secondary and literally ran right by everyone who even had a remote chance of tackling him. Rainey may be the shiftier of the two, but there’s no doubt who has better straight-line speed. Rainey would also go over 100 yards – he’s third time in the last three games – and dazzle fans on a 27 yard cross-field gain in which he covered somewhere around 100 yards. Even Mike Gillislee got into the action. After fumbling the ball after a collision with a referee, Gillislee exploded for a 60-yard score. He wouldn’t get to 100, but we’ll all take 84 yards on six carries. There was even a Trey Burton in the end zone sighting as the slash-back upped his career touchdown total against Kentucky to seven.

While the running game exploded, the passing game was stagnant. Not in an awful way, but not really used too much. John Brantley threw the ball eight times in the first quarter, but only six times the rest of the way. Part of that was due to the success of the run game and part was due to the scoreboard. It would have been nice to see Brantley sling the ball around more, but it just wasn’t needed. Add that to a slight injury and the Gators didn’t need him to pass much past the first quarter. Brantley appears to be fine though, so there’s nothing to worry about going forward.

What we did see was more involvement of the wide receivers and tight ends. The Gators only completed eight passes on the night – all by Brantley – but six went to WRs and TEs. By my count, 10 of the 18 attempts went to WRs and TEs as well. Those aren’t huge numbers, but not bad in the percentage department. This may be yet another example of Charlie Weis not showing his hand completely, but honestly why would he need to? The Gators took a 21-3 lead out of the first quarter and never needed to do much else than hand off the ball. Alabama’s defense will be a different animal, but we’ll get to that later. For now, it continues to look like Florida will do what it needs to do to win and little more, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. More passes to WRs and TEs and the emergence of Gerald Christian. With Jordan Reed banged up and A.C. Leonard still in returning from injury mode, Christian is taking hold of the tight end position and not looking back. A great route and catch by him and a near perfect throw from Brantley resulted in a 45-yard touchdown that lifted fans off their seats. Now if we can just see more similar plays to wide receivers, we’re good to go.

It’s hard to complain about the offensive line in a game in which the running game generated over 400 yards and nearly nine yards per carry, so I won’t go that route, but I will continue to harp on consistency. The line is struggling in that area. It’s not an issue that continues to come up. On Demps long run, everything worked as it was drawn up. On others, there were missed blocks that resulted in Kentucky getting into the backfield too quickly. The line is coming together, but needs to be a cohesive unit on every play. There will be hiccups in games, but they can’t happen as often. Against the big boys of the SEC, the line will need to open those holes for the running backs consistently and form a solid pocket around Brantley. Not something to worry too much about, but something that will surely be addressed during practice.

520 total yards and 41 points (seven came from the defense) is what you like to see. With the run game proving to be one of the better in the nation and the passing game coming along, the Gators will continue to put up points. The real tests come over the next two games. They’ll be tough matchups, but we all feel better about them than we did a month ago.

Next up: the defense.

Florida Gators Linebackers – 2010 vs. 2011

One Eyed Willy and I continue to run through the positions, comparing this year’s roster to that of 2010. To read past installments, click each position: quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line.

2010: Lorenzo Edwards – SR, Brandon Hicks – SR, A.J. Jones – RSR, Jon Bostic – SO, Dee Finley – SO, Scott Peek – RSO, Gideon Ajagbe – FR, Neiron Ball – FR, Jelani Jenkins – RFR, Darrin Kitchens – FR, Ronald Powell – FR, Michael Taylor – FR
Preseason Rating: A
Postseason Rating: C
It would take a lot to convince me to give the Florida linebackers anything less than an A before the start of the 2010 season. Actually, no; you couldn’t convince me they didn’t deserve an A. I would stand my ground on that one. Brandon Hicks had been solid all-around for quite some time and was poised to take a leadership role. A.J. Jones had made some big plays over his career and was something of an under-the-radar type. Jon Bostic seemed to have the potential to be Johnny Rutledge, Andra Davis, Channing Crowder, Brandon Siler, and Brandon Spikes all rolled into one. We were about to see all-world Jelani Jenkins join their ranks. And add the possibility of the nation’s top recruit in Ronald Powell alternating between defensive end and linebacker and you had possibly the best unit on the team. Then something strange happened.
The linebackers disappeared.
I’ve been very careful to not place complete blame on the Gators’ invisible linebackers on anyone in particular, and for good reason. I really don’t know what happened. Some have said individuals like Bostic and Jenkins haven’t lived up to the hype. Some even remarked that Powell had an underwhelming freshman season. I’d argue with you on that for one huge reason: coaching.
Sure, each and every one of the players named above could have performed better. There’s no denying that. However, I have to look at the other piece of the puzzle and that piece is coaching. What was drawn up for these guys? Bostic wasn’t missing tackles on every other play; he was lined up ineffectively. Linebackers were sent on blitzes when the offensive formation or down and yardage to go didn’t warrant it. Although overall play could have been better, coaching contributed greatly to holding the unit back. Many times, they were removed from the play before the play even began.
Due to all of this, the unit gets a C and some are probably even asking “why that high?” I can’t give them a D for the sole reason that they did what they were told to do. They didn’t perform great and there were no All-Americans among them, but had they even lined up in a basic 4-3 zone or man formation for every single snap of the 2010 season, they would have performed better. Instead they were moved around the field while the defensive coaches tried to find an identity for their unit. The coaches get the D in this respect. The unit overall? C.
Jon Bostic – JR, Lerentee McCray – RJR, Scott Peek – RJR, Neiron Ball – SO, Dee Finley – RSO, Jelani Jenkins – RSO, Darrin Kitchens – SO, Ronald Powell – SO, Gideon Ajagbe – RFR, Graham Stewart – FR, Michael Taylor – RFR
Preseason Rating: A
It’s another A and for almost all the reasons it was an A before 2010. Bostic, Jenkins, and Powell have as much raw talent as any linebacking corps in the SEC. Add to them some players growing in the position and you have a unit that could be dangerously good. And yes, I include Powell here and even Lerentee McCray. Powell is playing the buck position and is mostly mentioned with the defensive ends, but if we understand the expectations of the position, he’ll be an LB from time to time. During recent practices, McCray has been moved from DE to LB and even been mentioned as a starter at times. He belongs here as well.
This unit has the potential to be the backbone of the defense as well as the captain of that ship. It needs to be again. Bostic has to take control as the main man in the middle. He needs to command the respect on and off the field that the former great Florida MLBs did. Jenkins needs to be the all-conference performer we all know he can be. And Powell – wherever he may be on the field – needs to enter beast mode and remain in it for 12 or 13 or 14 games.
The rest of the unit is solid in terms of potential, but lacking in terms of experience. None have significant playing time, but any could be asked to jump into an expanded role in 2011. If one of the starters goes down for any significant amount of time, that’s exactly what will happen. This unit, as much as any on the team, needs some blowout time early in the first few games so the backups can get in and get their feet wet. That’s almost a necessity with the linebackers.
One player I haven’t mentioned yet is Gerald Christian and for good reason. I have no idea where he will or won’t see the field. He’s a tight end. He’s a linebacker. He’s a tight end. He’s a linebacker. He’s a tight end. I know this happens with players from time to time because of talent at multiple positions or an injury forcing a move, but I hate it when it does. We may see Christian at LB at some point in 2011, but for now he’s a TE. I think.

Gators Lose A.C. Leonard For 6-8 Weeks

On August 2, I composed a piece on this very website comparing the Florida’s 2010 tight ends with this year’s group and made predictions as to how I thought the 2011 unit would fair. In the conclusion of my piece, I gave the unit as a whole a B grade for the upcoming season but noted that depth could become an issue. Well guess what…depth has become an issue!
The rumors that A.C. Leonard had suffered an injury that would sideline him for some time started to pop up earlier this week. That injury was confirmed by Will Muschamp this morning. Coach Muschamp stated that A.C. tore his meniscus in a non-contact drill earlier this week and will subsequently miss the next 6 to 8 weeks. If my math is correct, that would mean that A.C. will probably not be returning to action until the end of September.
Some may not view this as a very big injury considering that the best team we play in the month of September is Tennessee and besides them we play three teams that we should beat fairly easily (fingers crossed!). But I think this could be a bigger blow for a couple of reasons.
First, by all accounts, A.C. was becoming the #1B tight end to #1A Jordan Reed. And with new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis almost certainly going with several two tight end sets in his offense, having two formidable bookends for the offensive line would have been a great weapon. Also, being a true freshman, the more playing time that A.C. could have received in the first few games, the more prepared mentally and physically he would have been when we hit the meat of our schedule in October.
The ripple-down effect could hurt the Gators. It is believed now that Gerald Christian will move back over to the offensive side of the ball to take over some of the tight end responsibilities that A.C. leaves behind. That in itself is fine with me as I think Christian could be one hell of a tight end in his own right, but I never like it when guys are constantly switched from one position to the other (in this case, from linebacker to tight end). It seems to me like these guys start to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.
In addition, Clay Burton will likely move from his defensive end position to a full-time tight end, at least at the start of the season. My biggest fear with this move is taking a freshman away from the position he will most likely be playing at going forward and therefore taking away his chances of increasing his skills at that position. There was a chance, albeit maybe a small one, that Clay would have redshirted this year. That chance probably goes out the window with A.C.’s injury.
Finally, there is also some thoughts that Omarius Hines could pick up some of the slack at tight end in A.C.’s absence. Again, on the surface this looks fine as Hines has the hands and the size (well, maybe he is a little small but that’s ok) to be a very serviceable tight end. But it’s not like the Gators have a closet full of good wide receivers right now that they can open up and pluck one out when need be. Our WR unit is one of the thinnest unit’s on the team and if Omarius is playing tight end that means one of our best WRs isn’t lining up at his normal position.
In the end, the old adage that injuries are part of the game is certainly true. I just hate to see one like this so early in fall practice and at a position which the Gators are already fairly thin. On the other side of the coin, I guess it’s better to happen now than in the third week of the season.

Florida Gators Tight Ends – 2010 vs. 2011

Part four in a series where The Bull Gator and I go over the Florida roster differences from this season to last and what to expect in 2011.Check out past installments: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers.

2010: Jordan Reed – RFR, Desmond Parks – RFR, Michael McFarland – FR, Gerald Christian – FR
Preseason Rating: C
Postseason Rating: F

Woohoo! Our first F grade for the 2010 season! Too bad grades don’t go to G or H as I would have had to given those serious consideration when it came to rating the Gators’ tight end performance in 2010.

I know what some of you are thinking…Jordan Reed had a pretty good year last year when you look at the contributions he made as quarterback. While that might be true, I am strictly focusing on the contributions of Reed and his cohorts while they lined up as tight ends. With that in mind, let’s look at the stats for the tight ends in 2010:

Jordan Reed – 12 games played, 6 catches, 79 yards, 1 TD
Desmond Parks – 0 games played
Michael McFarland – 0 games played
Gerald Christian – 0 games played

Some may say that it wasn’t the tight ends’ fault that their stats were so abysmal in 2010 – it was the style of offense we ran, our bone-headed offensive coordinator, and the lack of quarterback production. While I agree with you on the last part of that statement, let’s not forget that the Gators had that same style of offense and that same bone-headed offensive coordinator in 2009. And in that year, does anyone know who the leading receiver on the team was? I do! I do! It was our tight end, Aaron Hernandez, who accounted for 68 catches, 850 yards and 5 touchdowns. Sure glad that he decided to skip his senior year and go pro!

2011: Josh Postell – RJR, Jordan Reed – RSO, A.C. Leonard – FR
Preseason Rating: B

Woohoo! Our first non-C grade for the 2011 season!

It may be a huge leap going from rating a unit last year as an F to then thinking that they will be above-average the next year, but that’s just what I am doing. The major reason for this will be Jordan Reed’s commitment to the position. Unless things go horribly wrong in 2011 (yet again!), Reed should finally be able to focus on playing the position that he is best suited for. The only way that I can see him taking snaps as the QB again would be if we wanted to run some sort of wildcat formation, especially by the goal-line, and wanted to use his big body to get us a couple of important yards. Besides those rare occasions, look for Reed to be the go-to TE that John Brantley so desperately needs.

With Reed locking down one TE position, the Gators will turn to true freshman A.C. Leonard to hopefully lock down the other when we go to the infamous two tight end set. While I have never seen Leonard play in a real college football game, my expectation levels for him are sky high. I anticipate that Leonard and Reed will provide a valuable one-two punch that Charlie Weis will turn to again and again during the season.

And while Josh Postell is not a name that every fan of UF knows at this moment, he is a guy who has been around the team for three years now, was converted to TE from WR over the summer, and has been known to make a play or two when his number is called. Postell still needs to put on a little more weight for his new position, but regardless he should provide the back-up power that is needed to make this unit one the team’s strongest heading into the 2011 season.

One thing that deters me from giving the TEs even a higher grade is the unit’s lack of depth. Besides Postell, there really aren’t any guys that you can invision providing valuable reps at the tight end position this year. There was originally a thought that sophomore Gerald Christian would play both linebacker and tight end for the Gators in 2011, but that talk has died down over the past few months. However, should an injury to Reed or Leonard occur, look for Christian to possibly make the jump back over to the offensive side of the ball where he at least has some knowledge of the playbook and the position itself.

All in all, the 2011 tight ends have a ton of potential and the size, speed, and catching abilities to be great fits in the new Weis-led offense. If everyone can stay healthy and the quarterback has enough time and enough mental stability to get the ball in their general vicinity, don’t be surprised if a tight end once again leads the team in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns. And if that happens, we may all be saying, “who was that Aaron Hernandez guy you speak of?”

Florida Gators Release Spring Depth Chart

With every day we get closer.  Just a little, but closer to football season.  Basketball season is winding down.  One month from now, the NCAA Tournament will be but a memory.  We’ll need football information to tide us over until the fall.  There isn’t much of it, and we get it in bits.  The latest bit is here.  It’s the Florida spring depth chart.  It means little.  In fact, it means virtually nothing, but it’s a starting point.

There are some surprises – yes, that’s Gerald Christian at linebacker.  There is some of what we expected – no, it’s not a shock that John Brantley is the first-team quarterback.  Don’t be too concerned with those missing – Jeff Demps, Omar Hunter, and Janoris Jenkins for instance – those out or limited for the spring aren’t listed.
The Offense
QB – 1: John Brantley, 2: Jeff Driskel/Tyler Murphy
* No surprises here.
HB – 1: Chris Rainey, 2: Mack Brown/Mike Gillislee
* Looks like Rainey is penciled in as a HB for now.  It’s unclear if he’ll do double duty as a WR as well.  If we had a vote, that vote would be full-time HB.  Expect that to be a co-starter position when Demps is good to go.
X – 1: Frankie Hammond, 2: Stephen Alli/Quinton Dunbar
Z – 1: Omarius Hines, 2: Andre Debose
* The man-crush list continues to grow on almost a daily basis, but Hines has been on it for quite some time.  Get that man the ball.
F-11 – 1: Deonte Thompson, 2: Robert Clark/Solomon Patton
F-12 – 1: Michael McFarland, 2: Josh Postell
F-21 – 1: Trey Burton
* No, it’s not some advance fighter jet formation.  The F is a position and who fills it depends on the formation.  The first number accounts for the number of halfbacks on the field.  The second is tight ends.  So, with one HB and one TE, the Gators will run a third WR onto the field – Thompson.  With one HB and two TEs, McFarland comes in as the second TE.  With two HBs and one TE, the second HB is Burton (offense, not defense for him).  What’s most interesting in all of this is that it seems as of right now, Hammond and Hines will see more time with the first team than Thompson.
TE – 1: Jordan Reed, 2: A.C. Leonard
* Reed, TE, full time.
LT – 1: Chaz Green, 2: Kyle Koehne
LG – 1: Jonotthan Harrison, 2: Cole Gilliam
C – 1: Sam Robey, 2: Nick Alajajian
RG – 1: Jon Halapio, 2: William Steinmann
RT – 1: Xavier Nixon, 2: Ian Silberman
* By all accounts, Green is an absolute beast, but he may be holding the position for Matt Patchan.  James Wilson and David Young are also not listed.  And Robey, your time has come, make it count.  Overall, depth is a concern.
The Defense
DT – 1: Dominique Easley, 2: Leon Orr
DT – 1: Sharrif Floyd, 2: Earl Okine
*Easley and Floyd will get plenty of playing time during the 2011 season, but expect Hunter and Jaye Howard to be the primary starters.  Starting has meant little across the defensive line in recent years.  Although there’s a new coaching staff, one of Florida’s strengths has been a heavy rotation across the line.
DE – 1: William Green, 2: Clay Burton/Chris Martin
DE/LB – 1: Ronald Powell, 2: Lerentee McCray/Lynden Trail
* You’ll also hear to this referred to as the Buck position by some.  Check out Only Gators for an explanation.  Basically, in the 4-3 it’s an end and in the 3-4 it’s a backer.
WLB – 1: Jelani Jenkins, 2: Dee Finley/Darrin Kitchens
MLB – 1: Jon Bostic, 2: Michael Taylor
SLB – 1: Gerald Christian, 2: Gideon Ajagbe
* Interesting to see Christian, who moved from TE, to be working with the first team so soon.  We’re guessing Jenkins becomes the other MLB when in the 3-4.
CB – 1: Jeremy Brown, 2: Cody Riggs
CB – 1: Moses Jenkins, 2: De’Ante Saunders
SS – 1: Matt Elam, 2: Josh Shaw
FS – 1: Josh Evans, 2: Tim Clark
* Elam is slated to become the Nickel corner, which probably means Shaw takes his spot at safety.  Expect to see plenty of Riggs as we did during his freshman year.
The Special Teams
KR – 1: Andre Debose, 2: Solomon Patton
PR – 1: Chris Rainey, 2: Frankie Hammond
* We like both of these.  A lot.
K – 1: Caleb Sturgis, 2: Brad Phillips
P – 1: Kyle Christy, 2: Dave Lerner
LS – 1: Christopher Guido, 2: Drew Ferris
* Christy, you have a lot to live up to.  Don’t disappoint.  But, you know, no pressure or anything.
Debate as you will.

New Florida Gators Jersey Numbers for 2010

Florida released their full roster for the 2010 season last week and along with it came the newest jersey numbers.  We already knew about some of the freshman – those that have been around since the spring – but now the rest have numbers as well.  Don’t think these are definitely what they will wear once they hit the field one day (jersey numbers have been known to change), but for most of them, this is it.
And for fun I’ve added some memorable former Gators that have worn those numbers. Well, memorable according to my standards. You may have a different view entirely.
7 – Ronald Powell – DE – Jesse Palmer, Danny Wuerffel, Lorenzo Hampton, John Reaves
8 – Adrian Coxson – WR – Carlos Dunlap, Chad Jackson, Rex Grossman, Don Gaffney
10 – Tyler Murphy – QB – Jabar Gaffney, John Capel, Eric Kresser, Monty Grow, Chan Gailey
13 – Trey Burton – QB – Alex Brown, Ray Criswell
14 – Jaylen Watkins – CB – Bart Edmiston, Shayne Edge, Ernie Mills, Bruce Bennett
22 – Matt Elam – S – Terry Jackson, Willie Jackson Jr., Emmitt Smith, John L. Williams, Willie Jackson Sr., Steve Tannen
25 – Gideon Ajagbe – LB – Brandon James, Elijah Williams, Stacey Simmons, Lee McGriff
27 – Chris Dunkley – WR – Neal Anderson
29 – Joshua Shaw – CB – Mike Peterson
30 – Jonathan Dowling – S – Earl Everett, James Jones
31 – Cody Riggs – CB – Johnny Lamar, Carlton Miles
32 – Gerald Christian – TE – Dustin Doe, Eugene McCaslin
33 – Mack Brown – RB – Kestahn Moore, Ran Carthon, Teako Brown, Errict Rhett, Larry Smith
37 – Brandon Sanders – CB – Reggie Davis
38 – Phillip Bellino – RB – Matt Piotrowicz
39 – Jordan Haden – S – Chris Hetland
48 – Neiron Ball – NT – Dexter Daniels
49 – Darrin Kitchens – LB – Jermaine Cunningham, Jeff Chandler
51 – Michael Taylor – LB – Brandon Spikes, David Little
58 – Dominique Easley – DT – Johnny Rutledge
68 – Leon Orr – DT – Mike Degory, Rhondy Weston
73 – Sharrif Floyd – DT – David Williams
75 – Chaz Green – OL – Phil Trautwein, Shannon Snell, Donnie Young, Lomas Brown
77 – Ian Silberman – OL – Max Starks, Cheston Blackshear
81 – Robert Clark – WR – Aaron Hernandez, Dallas Baker
83 – Solomon Patton – WR – Dwayne Dixon
84 – Quinton Dunbar – WR – Ben Troupe, Harrison Houston
85 – Lynden Trail – DE – David Galloway
88 – Michael McFarland – TE – Kirk Kirkpatrick, Wilber Marshall, Jim Yarbrough
An interesting number assignment to note: Dunkley.  The receiver has been rumored to be getting #5, but is listed at #27.  No one on the roster is currently listed at #5, so Dunkley could still get it, but as of right now he has something else.

Breaking Down the Florida Gators’ 2010 Recruiting Class – Part 1

Now that we know who has signed with Florida, we can start to analyze them with a fine-toothed comb throughout the spring and summer and project what they will do once they suit up for the Gators.  In four neat parts, I’ll give my early thoughts about each of the signees and how they may contribute in 2010.
Gideon Ajagbe
LB – 6’2″, 197 lbs. – Coconut Grove, FL – Ransom Everglades
Ajagbe is fairly small for a linebacker in terms of bulk, but so was a former Gator by the name of Earl Everett when he came to Gainesville.  His athletic ability is what drew Florida to him.  The coaching staff wants him to get up in the 230-pound range and hopes he won’t lose any speed in doing so.  Expect Ajagbe to redshirt while he gets accustomed to Florida’s conditioning regimen.
Neiron Ball
DE – 6’4″, 210 lbs. – Jackson, GA – Jackson
Ball is in much of the same boat as Ajagbe in that his speed and overall ability led the Gators to him, but he will need to put on some weight to play his position at the next level.  Due to Ball’s acceleration, he can end up being a pass-rush specialist for the Gators, but may also do well as a blitzing outside linebacker.  He’s another good candidate to redshirt although being enrolled early may have helped him get an edge.
Mack Brown
RB – 5’11”, 185 lbs. – Lithonia, GA – Martin Luther King
Brown was one of the one’s Florida fans were most worried about when Signing Day came around.  Many weren’t sure if he’d actually end up a Gator.  In the end, he was true to what he had been saying throughout most of his recruitment and signed with Florida.  Brown could be considered a speed back, but he seems to love contact as well.  With some added bulk, Brown could do some damage between the tackles.  Looking at the depth chart at running back, you would think he’s in line for a redshirt, but Brown may be too talented to keep off the field in 2010.
Trey Burton
QB – 6’2″, 203 lbs. – Venice, FL – Venice
Burton may win the award for best recruiter of the class.  The minute he pledged to attend Florida, he became one of the most vocal members of the 2010 recruiting class.  Burton is a dual-threat quarterback who will fit in well to an offense which allows the QB to run a good amount of the time.  With Jordan Reed moving to tight end (whether it’s just part time or not), expect Burton to be right in the mix to back up starting quarterback John Brantley.
Gerald Christian
TE – 6’3″, 220 lbs. – West Palm Beach, FL – Dwyer
Ladies and gentlemen, the Florida Gators’ 2010 starting tight end.  Okay that’s probably a little premature to declare, but don’t be surprised.  Tight end is the thinnest position on the team right now and there’s no reason to think Christian won’t be given a chance to claim the top spot.  He enrolled early, has good speed for someone his size, and comes in as one of the nation’s best high school tight ends.  Expect Christian to see the field a lot during the upcoming season.
Robert Clark
ATH – 5’9″, 170 lbs. – West Palm Beach, FL – Dwyer
Clark could be in line to be the next Brandon James.  He can play on either side of the ball – although we heard a lot about cornerback toward the end of the recruiting cycle – but Clark’s strongest point is in the return game.  After seeing the impact James had on the Florida program over his four years as a Gator, prospects may no longer shy away from being recruited as returners first.  Clark could realistically be the fastest member of the 2010 class.  If he is as dynamic in the return game as expected, he should see the field immediately.
Adrian Coxson
WR – 6’2″, 194 lbs. – Baltimore, MD – City College High
Coxson was one of the last recruits to join the class, but his commitment wasn’t much of a surprise.  Some see him as a throw-in at the end of the cycle, but that’s not the case at all.  He’s a very talented receiver with the size to make an immediately impact.  With the entire receiving corps getting an overhaul in 2010, the freshmen will be given an opportunity to fight for playing time.  However, Coxson is one of four true receivers in the class (not to mention some athletes who could become full-time receivers) so he may be in line for a redshirt.  Fall practice will determine which ones play immediately and which ones we’ll have to wait until 2011 to see.
Come back tomorrow for the next part.

Aaron Hernandez Joins Joe Haden, Will Enter 2010 NFL Draft

“A little rough around the edges.”  “Needs to watch the ball in and secure it before making his next move.”  “A project that will take some time to develop.”  We heard a lot about Aaron Hernandez possibly not living up to the hype after his first few practices with the Gators.  Many were worried he would fall into the category of the highly overrated high school star the college game left behind.  Then he got on the field and opinions were completely changed.
Three years later, Hernandez leaves Florida has the school’s all-time leader among tight ends in catches (111) and catches in a single season (68).  He was a first-team All-American, became the first SEC player to ever win the Mackey Award (given annually to the nation’s top TE), and may have been the Gators’ most dangerous offensive weapon in 2009 not named Tim Tebow.  Hernandez leaves on a high note, setting a career-high with nine catches in the Sugar Bowl.  It was also the second 100-yard game of his career and he took one into the end zone.
The departure of the All-American tight end may hurt the Gators more than any other mostly because it leaves the position as a gigantic question mark.  Desmond Parks came to Florida as part of the 2009 recruiting class. rated him at the 16th-best tight end in the class and early reports were that he was very raw and although had some potential could take longer to develop.  The 2010 class brings with it Michael McFarland (the 24th-best at the position) and one of the jewels of the group, Gerald Christian.
Christian (from Dwyer in West Palm Beach, FL) is rated at the nation’s 2nd-best tight end and #48 prospect overall.  Gators fans who wanted a certain TE from Tampa last year will like what Rivals has to say about Christian: “a bigger version of Georgia’s Orson Charles.”  The hope, of course, is that Christian comes in and takes over the position.  While tight end may be one of those position you don’t necessarily want a true freshman starting at, Florida may not have much of a choice.  Although, if Christian lives up to the hype, the Gators may not have anything to worry about.
More should be coming out soon regarding Florida’s other early draft entrant candidates.  Hopefully it’s nothing more than news of them returning for another year.

What We Now Know About the Urban Meyer Situation

In a word (or two to be accurate): not much.  That is so because we have no idea what tomorrow or the next day or the day after that will bring.  We’ve run the gamut of emotions.  From shock to sympathetic to empathetic to angry to accepting to shocked again to calm to calmer to calmest to where we are at the moment worrying about two things and two things only – Urban Meyer’s health and the effect of all this on recruiting.  Sorry, but that’s the reality of it.  First and foremost, Meyer to get healthy, but you can’t help but think of the football side.
After all was said and done we got to this: Meyer will remain the head coach at Florida.  He will not resign, but will instead take a leave of absence.  The leave will begin after the Sugar Bowl and continue for as long as it takes Meyer to get his health in proper, working order.  First speculation was a year, but then the coach himself said he anticipates being back for the 2010 season opener.  So what we really have is Meyer stepping back a little and taking it easier during the spring and summer in order to make sure he can keep up physically with the stress and pressure of being a head coach of one of the most successful football programs in recent memory.
The announcement comes with an interim head coach as well.  Steve Addazio.  We’re not completely sure what Addazio will be doing, but we’re guessing responsibilities include signing off on the other coaches’ time sheets, getting the big office for a few months, and an improved parking space.  Gator fans may not like the choice after seeing the Addazio-coordinated offense sputter on more than one occasion in 2009, but the players are excited.  Applause totaled a mind-blowing three or four minutes when the “promotion” was announced to the team.
As Florida moves into Meyer’s leave of absence period, one thing needs to be shored up quickly: the recruits.  Several had concerns when it was a resignation and many of those have been calmed since that’s no longer the case.  However, there is that one recruit everyone wants to know about.  Matt Elam.  Elam was set to enroll early with Dwyer teammates Gerald Christian and Robert Clark.  With the recent news, that doesn’t seem like it will happen.  While other recruits have remained solid, Elam wants to take some time and see how the situation will unfold.  Although Florida still has a great chance of landing the star recruit, we may not fully know his intentions until signing day.
Now we can move on to that game in a few short days.  Regardless of the news or the predictions of the future, there’s the Sugar Bowl to think of.  On to actual football.